Thunder and downpour did not dampen the enthusiasm Nov. 10 as Austin residents celebrated South Austin Coalition’s 29th year of service to the community.

This year’s theme was “Fight back with SACCC.” Ruthie Hooker was dinner chairperson with Juanita Rutues as vice chair. Elce Redmond was master of ceremony and music was performed by Fulson Production (headed by Larry D. Fulson). Invocation was delivered by Rev. Elizabeth Bynum.

Before the service awards were given out, SACCC’s female members gave awards to their husband for their understanding and support when they are away from home working on issues.

This year’s community service awards went to: Tom Jones, SEIU Local #20, Stonewall (Stoney) Dunagan, Mary Smith, Ora Steele, Officer Cassandra Norman, Officer Beverly Rogers, Dan Stenkowski, Pat Doherty-Wildner, Lucy Sumerall and Luedella Burgess.

Keynote speaker for the event was 29th Ward Alderman Isaac Carothers. “SACCC is a great leader in our community,” Carothers said. “It does not make a difference whether it’s fighting against utilities, fighting against City Hall, fighting for education or health. Whether it’s in Chicago, Springfield or Washington, SACCC has been to all of these places. Many days I’ve turned around as I sit in City Council, and I saw Rev. Bynum sitting right behind me. I’ve seen Lillian Drummond take the podium and give speeches and talk about all the needs in our community. I see Bob Vondrasek in the back kind of pulling his strings, putting it all together, making sure everything is working, making sure the buses are on time, getting everybody together.

SACCC has value not only to the 29th Ward, but it adds so much value to the West Side. It adds really so much value to the city, and believe or not, it adds so much value to the country. I could not say that without at least mentioning Ed Bailey. Mr. Bailey was ageless. He just kept on going and he is one of the cornerstones of SACCC. I want to urge you to continue on with the struggle. I know you will march on City Hall tomorrow, march on Springfield the next day and you’ll be visiting Cong. Danny the next day in Washington. It’s your advocacy that makes a difference. You are recognized all over. I can tell you every alderman in City Council knows about SACCC.

“I will never forget when Bob [Vondrasek] came to me and said we’ve got to do something about ComEd turning off the electricity when it’s hot. Now we already know there is a moratorium on turning off the gas when it’s cold. When Bob came to us, I went to Ed Smith of the 28th Ward and said, Ed, you know we should do an ordinance on this. We sponsored a resolution that ComEd agreed to, to not cut off electricity on people when it is hot. It was SACCC that did that. You need to continue your advocacy because we in elected positions need for you to tell us what you need. You play a vital role, a very vital role, and you look around the room, you have People’s Energy here, ComEd here, CEDA is here. When SACCC calls, everybody comes. That is something you have established because of your work throughout the years.

“Since 1977 when you came together, ever since then you’ve been marching on. But I do have a challenge for you and the challenge is to re-energize yourselves, to bring in younger people. I think the mark of a leader is to create leadership, because as you go on, and you get tired and want to relax, you need somebody behind you to continue on. I think Rev. Bynum said it best when she gave the prayer. She prayed to get young people to get involved, and who’s a better trainer than you?

“Teach them how to be an activist, teach them how to be an advocate, teach them about getting on the bus and going down to City Hall and going to Springfield and not afraid to leave the ‘hood and go to Washington, D.C. I was just talking to George Lawson [Austin Green Team], and he told me they went to Karl Rove’s house. That’s the kind of thing you are willing to do, but yet you have to impart to young people what you do and your knowledge. Young people have to learn from you.

“I’m so proud of the West Side because of what you did do on Tuesday [election day]. I’m proud because the 29th Ward voted 64 percent of the voters. And it was the number 4 ward out of all of the wards in the city and some of the highest turnout. That’s really because of what all of you do, because you advocate and teach people about the importance of voting.

“Don’t forget the challenge. Let’s bring the young people, let’s teach them, bring them into the fold and continue on our big fights and stay on the battlefield.”

SACCC Board of Directors: Juanita Rutues, vice president; Ruthie Hooker, sec./treasurer; Rev. Elizabeth Bynum, seniors chair; Bennie Meeks, safety chair; George Lawson, housing chair; McKinley Melton, civic representative; Delbert Vann, civic representative; and Ethel Southward, civic representative.

SACCC Staff: Theresa Welch, Elce Redmond, Bob Vondrasek.

Senior Advocates: Rev. Elizabeth Bynum, Dorothy Daniel, Jennie Caldwell, and Juanita Rutues.

Lillian Drummond is Utility Advocate/chair.